True, there were some fairly prominent temperature consistency issues, but that's to be expected from a mini fridge. It's fairly energy efficient, the tall shelf layout allows for relatively flexible storage, and a semi-automatic defrost feature means you won't be scraping ice off the interior of the freezer. If you need a small, portable fridge and want something that's just a little more polished than the one used in your college days, give the Danby a closer look.

A bit taller and thinner than your average one-door compact, the Danby stands out through its use of open spaces and an unusually accessible freezer shelf.

Giving off the impression that it would look slim even without the black exterior, this tall (for a compact) fridge has a single door topped by the Danby logo. The black finish is glossy, but still has a slight texture to it—it’s not so glossy as to be reflective. Nonetheless, it still picks up fingerprints pretty easily and will require some frequent cleaning. There’s a recessed handle located at the top of the fridge door, right under the Danby logo. The door is reversible, and as such, the handle runs the full width of the fridge.

It picks up fingerprints pretty easily and will require some frequent cleaning.

As a single-door compact, the Danby has a large fridge section with a freezer shelf set at the very top of the interior and a control dial next to this shelf. The main fridge portion is broken up into three sections: There’s one adjustable full shelf, one half-depth shelf meant to line up with the plastic shelf near the bottom (or it be moved to allow for storage of taller items), and an open space at the bottom where you might expect to find a drawer. The door of the fridge has three shelves of varying size, as well as a can rack. It can accommodate up to eight regular cans at a time.

The freezer consists of a fairly sizable (again, by compact standards) shelf that would run the full width of the fridge were it not cut off by the control dial. There’s a plastic tray set directly underneath it meant to catch any water that drips when the machine is defrosting.

Tall spaces between shelves make for easy access, but the tiny nooks can be difficult to clean.

The potential distance between fridge shelves makes getting to food quite easy. The freezer is also fairly accessible for a one-door compact: Items at the back may be trapped if you overstock, but the flap is larger than on some other models. Shelves are lightweight and easy to remove, and the smooth plastic trimming on the sides and the door are easy to wipe down. If anything drips inside the can holders, however, good luck cleaning them: With all the little crevices, you’re bound to miss a few sticky spots.

The controls are just plain weird.

The controls are just plain weird. The Danby uses a dial that points to a blue half-ring indicating the degree of coolness. Not only is there no temperature correlation, there’s no scale at all. There’s a big red button in the middle of it that, when pushed, will immediately initiate a defrost cycle in the freezer compartment. These controls are vague at best, and you have to be careful not to hit the defrost button. Since there’s no scale of any kind—just a graduated blue streak—you’ll need an external thermometer to properly calibrate the fridge.

Some issues with fridge consistency lost this model some points, as did some exceptionally bad moisture retention rates.

For such a small product, the temperature variance from top to bottom was pretty bad. The Danby is coolest towards the top, which is near the freezer, so you may want to keep things that spoil faster up there. Over time, the temperatures remained fairly consistent, even if it’s not the best result we’ve ever seen.

You’d think with such a small freezer that temperatures would be nearly constant. Well, you’d be wrong. There weren’t huge fluctuations in the Danby’s freezer, but enough that we took notice: about one degree from top to bottom, and a little over half of a degree over time. Food should be fine regardless of where you put it, but long term storage runs the risk of accumulating freezer burn.

With some of the worst retention rates we’ve ever seen, produce placed in here would lose nearly half a gram of moisture per day.

Since there is no vegetable drawer, we measured the moisture retention rates at the location where you might expect a drawer to go, just to maintain a sense of consistency. The Danby did horribly. With some of the worst retention rates we’ve ever seen, produce placed in here would lose nearly half a gram of moisture per day. It's a good excuse for eating that salad tonight.

The Danby will cost you about $14.74 per year to operate. It’s a very low operating cost, just a bit more than a few value meals at your local fast food chain.

For a compact, the tall Danby DCR88BLDD quite literally stands above the competition.

Even if retailers weren’t offering the $246 Danby DCR88BLDD for lower price tags—Wal-Mart advertises it for as little as $149—it would still be worth a closer look. One-door mini fridges are about as basic as you can get, with a very tiny freezer shelf, flimsy components, and less-than-perfect energy efficiency. The Danby manages to class up the market by offering a slighter larger-than-average freezer compartment and versatile storage, as well as a taller and thinner design that looks quite spiffy next to an average one-door. We wouldn't recommend this compact for vegetables because of its horrible moisture retention, but for office, dorm, and second-fridge purposes, the Danby DCR88BLDD is pretty good.

The Danby DCR88BLDD had decent performance results for a compact. However, fridge and freezer temperatures fluctuated a bit and frozen goods will run the risk of getting freezer burn. If you store vegetables in this mini, don't expect them to last long: Moisture loss was extremely high.

A large temperature shift from top to bottom in a compact fridge isn't ideal.

From top to bottom, we saw an average temperature shift of about six degrees. For such a small product, this really isn’t all that good. Air doesn’t have very far to circulate, yet it’s still warming up a good amount over a small space. As expected, it’s coolest at the top near the freezer, so keep that in mind when putting food in here: You may want to keep things that spoil faster closer to the top. Over time, the temperatures remained fairly consistent, even if it’s not the best result we’ve come across. The Danby was subject to an average shift of about one-quarter to one-third of a degree over time.

The small freezer shelf will get your food ice cold in no time.

The Danby pulled a fast one—literally—and surprised us with very good freezing rates. Room temperature test material was frozen after just 1 hour and 35 minutes—a very respectable rate that holds its own against average full-sized models with completely enclosed freezers.

If power goes out, your frozen goods won't last very long.

We measure how long it will take a freezer to thaw without electricity in order to simulate a power outage. Many fridges last quite a while, but we cut the test off at 36 hours. The Danby, however, lasted just about 5 and a half hours—better hope your electric company is reliable.

Meet the testers

Matthew Zahnzinger

Matthew Zahnzinger

Logistics Manager & Staff Writer


Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.

See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews

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